On Wednesday, August 3, 2022, the Colorado Judicial Department said that Colorado’s Supreme Court justices should not cede the ultimate power to determine how judges are publicly disciplined to an independent board.

According to documents analyzed by The Denver Post, the Judicial Department’s position directly contradicts a recommendation made by the Commission on Judicial Discipline, the body in charge of looking into judges’ misconduct. This is just one of many ongoing disagreements between the two organizations as the reform effort develops this summer.

Under the Colorado Constitution, the Commission on Judicial Discipline is responsible for investigating judges who act inappropriately while performing their duties and has the authority to impose minor, private disciplines, such as a private reprimand, admonishment, or improvement plan. But the Colorado Supreme Court must first approve any public reprimands, suspensions, or removals of judges from their positions.

The Commission on Judicial Discipline has suggested transferring this authority from the Supreme Court to a separate disciplinary panel made up of judges, attorneys, and citizens. The Colorado Judicial Department is opposed to that idea.

The Judicial Department also opposed a proposed change that would have taken away the Colorado Supreme Court’s ability to establish the rules and procedures for the Commission on Judicial Discipline, according to recommendations and responses submitted to state lawmakers this week.

The two entities agree that once a matter enters formal proceedings, which is the stage that occurs once investigators feel a judge’s misbehavior is supported by a preponderance of the evidence, disciplinary proceedings should no longer be kept secret.

“Although we do not agree with all of the commission’s recommendations, the department and the commission are not and should not be adversaries in this process,” the Judicial Department’s document reads. “It is clear that both parties want a robust, fair, and more transparent system of judicial discipline, which is essential to Colorado’s merit selection and retention system.”

Source: The Denver Post


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